The Runner Sports

The Battle Of The Bore: West Ham 1-0 Swansea

Of course West Ham scrambled to get a win, at home, against a poor side, on the back of a striker who tried to orchestrate his own transfer away from the club this summer. Only West Ham. In the usual unusual fashion that West Ham like to play in, the Hammers narrowly escaped a home draw against Swansea with an 89th-minute winner from Diafra Sakho. The win moves West Ham out of the bottom three and in a much more comfortable position heading into the upcoming international break that halts the Premier League this upcoming week.

Heading into this match, West Ham had penciled in a strong attacking side. For the first time this season, Andy Carroll and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez played in a double striker role that many had been calling for. Unfortunately, Manuel Lanzini, who featured off the bench and came on in the second half, was unable to play the full match in the midfield. As well, left winger Marko Arnautovic was not able to play in this match after being substituted off in West Ham’s loss to Tottenham in the previous match week. Without a fully fit side, West Ham put together what was seemingly a strong attack, with Michail Antonio on the right wing and Andre Ayew on the left. On paper is the imperative term here as the game was an uneventful mess from both sides.

West Ham saw much less of the ball as Swansea were happy to hold possession in their own half for much of the match. What attack they did have came from swinging the ball in on crosses to their striker duo of Wilfred Bony and Tami Abraham, but for the majority of the match, West Ham centerbacks Jose Fonte and Winston Reid deflected the attacks. Jordan Ayew was the instigator for the dangerous attacks of Swansea as he ran hard with and without the ball forcing many West Ham turnovers alongside center midfielder Renato Sanchez. Swansea, despite holding possession for the majority of the match and dominating the first half, were unable to puncture West Ham’s back line and score on Joe Hart.

What was uncomfortably clear for any spectators of this match was the inability for Andre Ayew to play at the highest level of football anymore. He started on the left side of the midfield and underwhelmed constantly throughout the match. He did not know when to go forward, could not manage enough hustle to get back on defense, and generally looked lost on the pitch. He wants to score so much that it negatively affects his own performance at the cost of his team’s performance as well. Ayew’s natural inclination to move to the middle of the pitch compromised the left wing, forced Mark Noble and Cheikou Kouyate to cover for him and abandon the team attack. He may still have life as an impact sub for West Ham, but the team needs to look into moves in the January transfer window to rid him from the roster and add a player who can play a position for an entire match.

West Ham supporters are generally growing tired of manager Slaven Bilic’s tactics, or lack thereof. This match was the perfect outcome for those supporters as the team managed a win while Bilic’s poor tactics were still on display. It was good to see a back four from Bilic at home, however, the plan of moving the ball up the wings and slinging it in to Carroll, who would shoot or flick it on to Chicharito, was predictable and underwhelming in performance. Without pressure from Ayew on the wing, leftback Aaron Cresswell had multiple defenders on him constantly, which stopped the attack in almost every occasion.

When Ayew was subbed off for natural defender Arthur Masuaku, who played on the left wing in this match, West Ham began ramping up their attack. Eventually crossing to Diafra Sakho, who replaced Chicharito in the second half, for the winning goal, Masuaku was a breath of fresh air in the attack and a revelation to Cresswell who had a viable option up his wing for the first time in the match.

It should be mentioned as well that Manuel Lanzini coming on for Mark Noble changed the dynamic of the game. Noble, who was subbed for fresh legs rather than poor performance, made way for Lanzini who immediately stepped up in the attack, and increased offensive pressure on Swansea. He was not fully fit but his presence on the pitch made the Swansea side have to pay attention to him, freeing up others to move the ball forward. He was also an outlet in West Ham’s own half, and often ran with the ball which was a massive upgrade over the first half plan of slinging the ball upfield in hopes of maintaining possession.

Unconvincing in fashion, but effective in the end, West Ham will not be able to take any points from better competition with the same gameplan. The upcoming international break will allow the board to survey all options for a new manager, especially since Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti has left his position. He has shown interest in West Ham in the past and would be a welcome option for many West Ham supporters. Up next for West Ham is Burnley FC away in what will be a telling match for the club and the manager.

Adam Smith
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Adam Smith

West Ham United Writer at The Runner Sports
Proud supporter of the Claret and Blue, West Ham United!
Actively interested in transfer news, match reports, developing story lines, and all things West Ham United!
Adam Smith
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